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It’s been a tense year for homeowners in floating-rate mortgages. They’ve watched their interest rates catapult 400 basis points in just nine months.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Variable mortgage rates are getting slightly closer to a turning point based on Wednesday’s Bank of Canada announcement, which signalled that its rate-hike campaign may be nearing an end.

Variable-rate borrowers shouldn’t plan on rate cuts for at least another 12 to 18 months, however. It’ll likely take at least that long, according to future rates implied by the bond market. If it happens sooner, borrowers should consider themselves lucky.

Insured and uninsured rates diverge further

Default-insured borrowers saw fixed rates sink as much as 30 basis points on some terms this week. The lowest rates on one-year to five-year insured terms are now all below 5 per cent again, thanks partly to competitive discounters such as QuestMortgage.

Unfortunately, the news was less cheery for uninsured borrowers. Unlike insured rates, which benefit from liquid government-backed securitization, uninsured rates are dominated by big deposit-taking lenders – mostly large banks. Those lenders have stuck together like a pack with few breaking ranks to offer consumers better deals. In fact, not one of the lowest uninsured rates dropped this past week, and a few actually rose.

The lowest-cost widely advertised HELOC comes from HSBC at 6.45 per cent.

As far as term selection goes, as long as people continue to expect falling rates in the next 12 to 18 months, a higher-than-normal share of mortgage shoppers continue taking one-year and two-year terms.

Uninsured short-term rates may not get much better than today, however – until the bond market thinks rate cuts are more imminent.

Lowest Nationally Available Mortgage Rates

1-year fixed5.74%Ratehub4.69%Quest Mortgage
2-year fixed5.54%HSBC4.69%Quest Mortgage
3-year fixed5.44%HSBC4.69%Quest Mortgage
4-year fixed5.44%Ratehub4.69%Quest Mortgage
5-year fixed5.29%HSBC4.69%Quest Mortgage
10-year fixed5.94%HSBC5.54%Nesto
5-year hybrid5.67%HSBC5.94%Scotia eHOME

As of Dec. 8

Insured rates apply to those buying with less than a 20-per-cent down payment, or those switching a pre-existing insured mortgage to a new lender. Uninsured rates apply to refinances and purchases over $1-million and may include applicable lender rate premiums. For providers whose rates vary by province, their highest rate is shown.

Robert McLister is an interest rate analyst, mortgage strategist and editor of You can follow him on Twitter at @RobMcLister.